In a stop-start career, Mishra stays hopeful
It's been 10 years since Amit Mishra first broke into the India team for a tri-series in Bangladesh, also involving South Africa. Since then, he has featured in just 18 ODIs in what has been a stop-start career.
A leg-spinner of potential when he surfaced, Mishra's inability to evolve as a bowler and add variation to his bowling saw him go under the radar.
But to his credit, the Haryana captain has risen whenever it seemed he would not make a comeback. The last time he played for India, before the Zimbabwe series, was in 2011 in England. In the two Tests of that disastrous series, Mishra bowled 13 no-balls and was out of the team.
It took him 18 months before he could get a recall - he was named for the ODI series against Pakistan. It has taken him another six months to find a place in the XI, largely due to R Ashwin's absence.
Late in the day
At 30, Mishra is the oldest member of the touring party in Zimbabwe and is perhaps too late to be considered as the future of India's spin bowling. But his recent resurgence shows that he is keen to make amends for the lost time.
In unfriendly conditions at the Harare Sports Club, Mishra has picked up nine wickets in three matches, including a man-of-the match performance of 4-47 in the third ODI on Sunday.
It might have come against Zimbabwe, who have not been best with their shot selection, but the manner in which the wickets have come for Mishra is an indicator that he has worked on his bowling.
Quite often in the past, Mishra relied just on leg breaks to pick up wickets. But in his current comeback trail he has shown he has added variety to his bowling and has picked up six wickets with the googly.
"I've done lots of hard work on the googly and variations and it's paying off. I've been waiting a long time for this and I'm doing my best and it's working for me now," said Mishra.
He was also impressive in the Indian Premier League, emerging as the best spinner ahead of Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha. While explaining his revival, he uses the term ‘hard work' many times.
The two Zimbabweans in the India backroom staff - coach Duncan Fletcher and fielding coach Trevor Penney have also helped him on the current tour. "When I came here I was thinking about the conditions and how to bowl on these kinds of tracks. I've spoken a lot with TP (Penney) and Duncan who have given me a few tips, which I've been working hard on," he said.
While most of his team-mates will travel to South Africa for the 'A' tour after the Zimbabwe series ends on Sunday, Mishra will head back home.
But the leggie is keen to make it to the Test side, when India travel to South Africa in November for the marquee series.
"I'm not in the Test side. I'll try and do my job in the next two matches, and then it's up to the selectors," he said.